Bad breath or mouth odour (medically called halitosis) is an unpleasant condition and can be really embarrassing for children, as well as their parents. It is not the mouth odour most people get in the morning when they wake up from sleep. It is far more serious than that. Unfortunately, the child who suffers from this condition may not even notice or realise it. People or friends around such may also find it very difficult or embarrassing to tell him. Instead, they may avoid him or quickly take their leave whenever he comes around them. To save a child from such embarrassment, it behoves the parents to do all they can toprevent or treat this condition.
POOR DENTAL HYGIENE: Parents should ensure that children brush their teeth three times a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. They should help their children floss at least once a day to reduce bad breath. After eating, food particles still remain in the mouth and these promote bacterial growth between teeth and around the gums which consequently causes badbreath. They shouldn’t also forget to brush the tongue because this can trap bacteria too.
DENTAL PROBLEMS: Your child can have a bad breath if he has cavity, an impacted tooth, an abscessed tooth or Gingivostomatitis (a gum infection common in children, evidenced by swellings and sores in the mouth).
HEALTH PROBLEMS: Bad breath can also be a warning sign that there is a serious underlying medical or health condition. Such medical conditions include: mucus in the throat as a result of sinusitis or cold, upper and lower respiratory infections, tonsil infections, diabetes, chronic bronchitis, among others.
STRONGLY FLAVOURED FOODS: Foods with strong odours, such as onions and garlic, can give your child an unpleasantbreath. Chewing gum or breath mints may only mask the odour temporarily.
XEROSTOMIA (DRY MOUTH): Saliva cleanses the teeth and mouth. It also destroys oral micro-organisms. So when there is a decrease in salivary flow, it leads to dry mouth and this can cause bad breath. Other causes of dry mouth include: sleeping with your mouth open, dehydration, salivary gland disease, chemotherapy, and certain medications.
- A good oral hygiene is very important and indispensable. Ensure your child brushes her teeth (and tongue) three times a day and for not less than 2 minutes.
- Have your child eat a good breakfast to stimulate the flow of saliva. Foods high in fibre are also recommended.
- Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids to help reduce dry mouth.
- Make sure your child visits the dentist at least twice a year.
- Good oral hygiene helps keep your child’s breath fresh.
- Take your child to the dentist/hygienist for regular cleanings.
- Visit the dentist who may advise on ways to improve your child’s oral health.
- If the above measures have been taken but your child’s bad breath persists, contact your dentist or doctor for further investigation in case there is an underlying health issue.